Pulihora Recipe

Tantalizing Pulihora Recipe: Tangy, Spicy, and Bursting with Flavor!



  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Category: Main Course
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 400 calories

About this recipe

Pulihora, also known as tamarind rice or lemon rice, is a delightful South Indian dish that tantalizes your taste buds with its tangy and flavorful notes. It's a popular dish that is often prepared during festivals or special occasions. The name "pulihora" itself gives a hint about its primary ingredient, which is tamarind.

To make pulihora, you start by cooking rice until it's fluffy and separate. It's important to let the rice cool down completely before proceeding to the next step. While the rice is cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients.

One of the key components of pulihora is the tamarind paste. You soak tamarind in warm water, allowing it to soften. Then, you extract the juice by squeezing the tamarind pulp, which gives you a tangy and slightly sour liquid. This tamarind paste forms the base of the pulihora's flavor.

To enhance the taste, a spice mix is prepared by dry roasting coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and dried red chilies. This process brings out their aromas and deepens their flavors. Once roasted, the spices are ground into a fine powder, which adds a robust and fragrant dimension to the dish.

Now it's time to bring all the elements together. In a pan, you heat oil and temper mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies, curry leaves, and asafoetida. This creates a sizzling and aromatic base for the pulihora. Then, you add the tamarind paste along with turmeric powder and the prepared spice mix. The mixture simmers, allowing the flavors to meld together and the tanginess of the tamarind to mellow down.

Finally, you gently mix in the cooked rice, ensuring that each grain is coated with the tangy tamarind-spice mixture. The rice absorbs the flavors and transforms into a vibrant yellow hue. Optional additions like roasted peanuts and cashews can be included for an extra crunch and nutty taste.

Once everything is well combined, you can take the pulihora off the heat. It's now ready to be served and savored. The pulihora can be enjoyed on its own or accompanied by yogurt or raita to balance out the tanginess. Its tangy, zesty, and slightly spicy taste profile makes it a delightful dish for lunchboxes, picnics, or whenever you crave a burst of flavors.

Pulihora not only pleases your taste buds but also brings a sense of tradition and celebration. It represents the rich culinary heritage of South India, where rice is a staple and tamarind is used to create delightful and tangy dishes.

So, if you're looking to add some zest and excitement to your meal, give pulihora a try and let its flavors transport you to the vibrant world of South Indian cuisine.

Recipe origin and background

The origin of the pulihora recipe can be traced back to the southern region of India, particularly the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. It is a traditional South Indian dish that has been a part of the local culinary heritage for many generations.

In South India, rice is a staple food, and various rice-based dishes are prepared using different ingredients and flavors. Pulihora, with its tangy and flavorful profile, is one such dish that showcases the vibrant and diverse flavors of the region.

The primary ingredient of pulihora is tamarind, which has been widely used in Indian cuisine for centuries. Tamarind, with its unique sour taste, adds a refreshing tanginess to the dish. The combination of tamarind and rice, along with the spice mix, creates a distinct flavor profile that sets pulihora apart.

Over time, variations of pulihora have developed, incorporating local ingredients and regional preferences. For example, in some regions, lemon juice or raw mangoes are used instead of tamarind to achieve the tangy flavor.

Additionally, different spice blends and garnishes may be added to enhance the taste and presentation of the dish.

Pulihora is not only a regular part of everyday meals but also holds significance during religious festivals and auspicious occasions. It is often offered as prasadam (religious offering) in temples and is a common dish prepared during festive gatherings and celebrations.

Due to its delicious taste, simplicity, and versatility, pulihora has gained popularity beyond South India and is enjoyed by people all over the country and even internationally. It has become a beloved dish that represents the rich culinary traditions and flavors of South India.

Why try this Pulihora recipe?

  1. Unique and Tangy Flavor: Pulihora offers a distinct taste that is tangy, zesty, and slightly spicy. The combination of tamarind, spices, and rice creates a burst of flavors that is refreshing and delightful. If you enjoy dishes with a tangy twist, pulihora will definitely satisfy your taste buds.
  2. Easy to Prepare: Pulihora is a relatively simple recipe that doesn't require any elaborate techniques or specialized ingredients. With readily available pantry staples, you can easily recreate this flavorful dish in your own kitchen. It's a great recipe for both beginners and experienced cooks alike.
  3. Versatility: Pulihora can be enjoyed as a standalone main course or as a part of a larger meal. It is commonly served during festivals, gatherings, and special occasions. It can also be packed for lunchboxes, picnics, or as a travel-friendly meal option. The versatility of pulihora allows you to enjoy it in various settings and occasions.
  4. Traditional South Indian Cuisine: Trying pulihora gives you an opportunity to explore the rich and diverse culinary heritage of South India. It is a quintessential South Indian dish that represents the flavors and traditions of the region. By preparing and savoring pulihora, you get a taste of the authentic and traditional cuisine of South India.
  5. Customization: While the recipe provides a basic framework, you can also customize pulihora to suit your preferences. You can adjust the spice level, add or omit certain ingredients, or even experiment with different variations like using lemon juice or raw mangoes instead of tamarind. This flexibility allows you to tailor the dish to your liking and explore your culinary creativity.
  6. Crowd-Pleaser: Pulihora is a dish that appeals to a wide range of palates. Its tangy and flavorful profile makes it a favorite among both children and adults. Whether you're hosting a gathering or simply want to treat your family to a delicious meal, pulihora is sure to impress and satisfy everyone.

In a nutshell, trying the pulihora recipe opens up a world of unique flavors, introduces you to the vibrant cuisine of South India, and offers a simple yet satisfying meal option. So, gather the ingredients, embark on a culinary adventure, and enjoy the delightful tanginess of pulihora.

What does Pulihora taste like?

Pulihora is known for its unique and distinctive taste that combines tanginess, spiciness, and a medley of flavors.

The dominant flavor comes from the tamarind, which provides a delightful tangy and slightly sour taste. The tanginess is balanced by the warmth of various spices and the nutty crunch of peanuts and cashews if added.

The tamarind, along with the spice mix, creates a harmonious blend of flavors that is both vibrant and refreshing. The roasted coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and dried red chilies add depth and earthiness to the dish, while the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and asafoetida infuse it with a delightful aroma.

The overall taste of pulihora is tangy, savory, and slightly spicy, with a hint of sweetness. The tanginess of the tamarind is the star of the show, providing a pleasant sourness that wakes up your taste buds. The spices add a subtle kick of heat without overpowering the tanginess, making it a well-balanced dish.

The combination of the tangy tamarind, aromatic spices, and perfectly cooked rice creates a burst of flavors in every bite. The grains of rice, coated with the tamarind-spice mixture, absorb the flavors, resulting in a satisfying and delicious dish.

Pulihora is a dish that excites your palate with its tangy, zesty, and slightly spicy taste. It's a true celebration of flavors and a testament to the culinary creativity of South Indian cuisine.

What is in Pulihora?

  • Rice: Non-sticky rice varieties like Sona Masoori or Basmati rice are commonly used in pulihora. Rice serves as the base ingredient and provides the texture and bulk to the dish.
  • Tamarind: Tamarind is the star ingredient that lends pulihora its tangy flavor. It is available as tamarind pulp or paste and adds a delightful sourness to the dish.
  • Oil: Any neutral-flavored oil like vegetable oil or peanut oil can be used for cooking the pulihora. It helps in sautéing the spices and coating the rice.
  • Mustard Seeds: Mustard seeds are commonly used in South Indian cooking. They provide a nutty and slightly pungent flavor to the dish when tempered in hot oil.
  • Chana Dal: Chana dal, also known as split chickpeas, adds a subtle nutty flavor and a slight crunch to the pulihora. It is usually tempered with mustard seeds.
  • Urad Dal: Urad dal, or split black gram lentils, is another lentil used for tempering in the pulihora recipe. It contributes a mild earthy taste to the dish.
  • Curry Leaves: Curry leaves are aromatic leaves commonly used in South Indian cuisine. They add a distinct flavor and fragrance to the pulihora when sautéed in oil.
  • Dried Red Chilies: Dried red chilies provide heat and a smoky flavor to the pulihora. Adjust the quantity based on your spice preference.
  • Turmeric Powder: Turmeric powder adds a vibrant yellow color to the pulihora and imparts a subtle earthy flavor. It also offers various health benefits.
  • Asafoetida: Asafoetida, also known as hing, is a pungent spice commonly used in Indian cooking. A pinch of asafoetida adds a unique flavor and aids in digestion.
  • Roasted Peanuts: Roasted peanuts are often added to pulihora to provide a delightful crunch and nutty flavor. They can be mixed in with the rice.
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves: Fresh coriander leaves, also known as cilantro, are used as a garnish for pulihora. They add a fresh, herbaceous flavor and enhance the presentation.

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Cooking Pot: A medium-sized cooking pot with a lid is required to cook the rice. If you don't have a cooking pot, you can use a saucepan or a Dutch oven as a substitute.
  • Mixing Bowl: A mixing bowl is needed to mix the cooked rice with the tamarind-spice mixture. If you don't have a mixing bowl, you can use a large, sturdy mixing container or even a clean basin as a substitute.
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon: A spatula or wooden spoon is essential for stirring the rice and mixing it with the tamarind-spice mixture. If you don't have either, you can use a fork as a substitute.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: You'll need a knife and a cutting board to chop fresh coriander leaves for garnishing. If you don't have a cutting board, you can use a clean, flat surface like a plate or a tray as a substitute.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Measuring cups and spoons are useful for accurately measuring the ingredients. If you don't have measuring cups and spoons, you can use regular kitchen utensils like mugs or tablespoons. Just keep in mind that the measurements may not be as precise.
  • Stove or Cooktop: A stove or cooktop is required to cook the rice and temper the spices. It provides the necessary heat for cooking the pulihora. If you don't have a stove, you can use an electric hot plate or induction cooktop as a substitute.
  • Grinder or Blender (Optional): If you prefer to grind your own spice mix, you'll need a grinder or blender to grind the roasted spices into a powder. If you don't have a grinder or blender, you can use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices manually.

How to make Pulihora

Discover a mouthwatering Pulihora recipe with a perfect blend of tangy tamarind, aromatic spices, and fluffy rice. A flavorful delight!


  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 2-3 dried red chilies, broken
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons roasted cashews (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish

For the spice mix:

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chilies


  1. Cook the rice: Rinse the raw rice thoroughly under running water until the water runs clear. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop according to the package instructions. Once cooked, spread the rice on a plate and let it cool completely.
  2. Prepare the spice mix: Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and dried red chilies in a pan over medium heat until they turn aromatic and slightly browned. Allow the roasted spices to cool, and then grind them into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the tamarind paste: Soak the tamarind paste in 1/4 cup warm water for about 10-15 minutes. Once softened, squeeze the tamarind pulp with your fingers to extract the juice. Strain the pulp and discard any solids.
  4. Heat oil in a large pan or kadai over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then, add cumin seeds, dried red chilies, curry leaves, and asafoetida. Sauté for a few seconds until the spices release their aroma.
  5. Add the tamarind paste to the pan, followed by turmeric powder and the prepared spice mix. Mix everything well and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell of tamarind disappears.
  6. Add the cooked rice to the pan and gently mix it with the tamarind-spice mixture until all the rice grains are coated evenly. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add salt to taste and mix well. If desired, you can also add roasted peanuts and cashews at this stage for added crunch and flavor.
  8. Remove the pulihora from the heat and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Your pulihora is now ready to be served! It can be enjoyed as is or with a side of yogurt or raita. Pulihora is perfect for lunchboxes, picnics, or any time you crave a tangy and delicious meal.

How to serve Pulihora

Serving pulihora is quite straightforward. Here's a simple guide on how to serve pulihora:

  1. Plating: Transfer the prepared pulihora to a serving dish or a plate. Ensure that the rice is evenly spread and well-mixed with the tamarind-spice mixture.
  2. Garnish: Sprinkle some freshly chopped coriander leaves over the pulihora. This adds a pop of freshness and a hint of herbaceous flavor to the dish.
  3. Accompaniments: Pulihora can be enjoyed on its own, but it also pairs well with a few accompaniments. Few options you can consider include: Yogurt or raita, papad or poppadoms, pickles, etc.
  4. Serving Suggestions: Pulihora can be served as a main course for lunch or dinner. It can also be packed as a delicious option for lunchboxes, picnics, or potluck gatherings. You can serve it warm or at room temperature, depending on your preference.
  5. Accommodate Dietary Preferences: If you have specific dietary preferences or restrictions, you can make adjustments accordingly. For example, if you're following a vegan diet, ensure that the accompaniments like yogurt or raita are plant-based or skip them altogether.

Remember, pulihora is best enjoyed freshly prepared, as the flavors are most vibrant when it's served soon after cooking. However, you can refrigerate any leftovers and consume them within a day or two.

So, set the table, plate the pulihora, add your preferred accompaniments, and enjoy the tangy and flavorful pulihora meal.

Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 454 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Pulihora, Pulihora Recipe, Recipe, Top rated

What to serve Pulihora with

Pulihora can be served as a standalone dish, but if you'd like to enhance your meal and create a more complete dining experience, here are some delicious accompaniments that go well with pulihora:

  1. Raita: A refreshing yogurt-based side dish, raita complements the tanginess of pulihora. You can make a simple cucumber raita by mixing grated cucumber, yogurt, salt, and a pinch of cumin powder. Other variations include boondi raita, onion raita, or mint raita.
  2. Poppadoms or Papad: Crispy poppadoms or papad (thin lentil or rice-based wafers) add a delightful crunch to your meal. They can be roasted or fried and are perfect for scooping up pulihora.
  3. Coconut Chutney: Coconut chutney, a popular South Indian condiment, pairs well with pulihora. It's made with fresh coconut, green chilies, ginger, and spices, and can be prepared in various flavors like coriander coconut chutney or tomato coconut chutney.
  4. Pickles: Indian pickles, known for their tangy and spicy flavors, are a great accompaniment for pulihora. Mango pickle, lime pickle, or mixed vegetable pickle can add an extra kick of flavor to your meal.
  5. Pesarattu or Dosa: If you're looking to expand your meal, you can serve pulihora with pesarattu (moong dal dosa) or regular dosa. These savory South Indian pancakes complement the tanginess of pulihora and create a satisfying and wholesome meal.
  6. Sambar or Rasam: If you prefer a more elaborate meal, you can pair pulihora with sambar or rasam, which are traditional South Indian lentil soups. They add depth of flavor and provide a comforting and hearty accompaniment to the tangy pulihora.
  7. Roasted Paprika Cauliflower: For a vegetable side dish, consider preparing roasted paprika cauliflower. Simply toss cauliflower florets with oil, paprika, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven until they turn golden brown. This adds a delicious and flavorful vegetable element to your meal.

You're free to adjust the accompaniments based on your preferences and dietary restrictions. These suggestions can be customized to suit your taste and create a well-rounded meal with pulihora as the star dish.

Enjoy the burst of flavors and textures as you combine pulihora with these delectable accompaniments.

My recommendations and tips

  1. Tamarind Paste: Use freshly prepared tamarind paste for the best flavor. Soak tamarind in warm water for about 15-20 minutes, then extract the juice by squeezing the pulp. Strain the tamarind juice to remove any solids before using it in the recipe.
  2. Rice: Choose a variety of rice that is suitable for pulihora, such as Sona Masoori, Basmati, or any other non-sticky rice. Ensure that the rice is cooked perfectly and each grain is separate and fluffy. It's important to cool the rice completely before mixing it with the tamarind-spice mixture to prevent the rice from becoming mushy.
  3. Spice Mix: Dry roasting the spices enhances their flavors. Roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and dried red chilies on low heat until they become aromatic. Be cautious not to burn them as it can result in a bitter taste. Allow the roasted spices to cool before grinding them into a fine powder.
  4. Adjust Spices: Feel free to adjust the amount of spices according to your taste preferences. If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the quantity of dried red chilies or omit them altogether. Similarly, if you enjoy spicier food, you can increase the number of chilies or add a pinch of chili powder.
  5. Mixing: When mixing the tamarind-spice mixture with the rice, use a gentle folding motion to ensure that each grain is coated evenly. Avoid stirring vigorously to prevent the rice from becoming mushy.
  6. Cooling Time: After mixing the rice with the tamarind-spice mixture, allow the pulihora to rest for a while. This resting time allows the flavors to meld together and intensify.
  7. Storage and Reheating: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Pulihora can be enjoyed for up to 2-3 days when stored properly. To reheat, gently warm it in a pan or microwave, adding a sprinkle of water if needed to loosen the rice.
  8. Customize: Feel free to customize the pulihora recipe based on your preferences. You can add roasted peanuts, cashews, or any other nuts of your choice for extra crunch. You can also experiment with additional ingredients like curry leaves, grated coconut, or grated ginger to enhance the flavor profile.

Enjoy the process, savor the flavors, and make pulihora a dish that reflects your taste and preferences.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  • Tamarind: If you don't have tamarind, you can use lemon juice or raw mango pulp as a substitute. These alternatives will provide a tangy flavor similar to tamarind. Start with a smaller quantity and adjust to taste.
  • Chana Dal and Urad Dal: If you don't have chana dal or urad dal, you can substitute them with other lentils like yellow split peas or red lentils. The flavor and texture may be slightly different, but they will still add a similar nutty taste and texture to the dish.
  • Curry Leaves: If you don't have curry leaves, you can omit them or use bay leaves as a substitute. While bay leaves won't provide the exact same flavor, they will add a pleasant aroma to the dish.
  • Dried Red Chilies: If you're out of dried red chilies, you can use chili flakes or cayenne pepper as a substitute. Adjust the quantity based on your desired spice level.
  • Roasted Peanuts: If you don't have roasted peanuts, you can use cashews or almonds as a substitute. Toast them lightly in a dry pan for a few minutes until they become slightly golden and crunchy. Chop them into smaller pieces and mix them with the rice.
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves: If fresh coriander leaves are not available, you can use parsley or mint leaves as a substitute. They will add a similar freshness and herbaceous flavor to the pulihora.

Additional note

  • Adjusting Spice Level: The pulihora recipe provided is a standard preparation, but feel free to adjust the spice level according to your taste preferences. If you prefer a milder taste, reduce the amount of dried red chilies or omit them altogether. On the other hand, if you enjoy spicier food, you can increase the quantity or add a pinch of chili powder.
  • Storage and Reheating: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Pulihora can be enjoyed for up to 2-3 days when stored properly. To reheat, gently warm it in a pan or microwave, adding a sprinkle of water if needed to loosen the rice.
  • Consistency: The pulihora recipe aims for a slightly dry consistency where each grain of rice is coated with the tamarind-spice mixture. If you prefer a moister pulihora, you can add a little more tamarind juice or a splash of water during the mixing process.
  • Rice Varieties: While Sona Masoori or Basmati rice are commonly used in pulihora, you can experiment with other rice varieties as well. Each rice type will yield slightly different textures and flavors, so choose one that suits your preference.
  • Experimenting with Additions: Pulihora is a versatile dish, and you can experiment by adding other ingredients to personalize the flavors. Some popular additions include roasted cashews, grated coconut, curry leaves, or even vegetables like carrots or green peas. Be creative and customize the recipe to your liking.
  • Presentation: You can elevate the presentation of pulihora by garnishing it with additional toppings such as fried onions, toasted sesame seeds, or pomegranate arils. These additions not only add visual appeal but also enhance the taste and texture of the dish.
  • Serving Temperature: Pulihora can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature, based on personal preference. However, avoid serving it piping hot as it may overpower the flavors.

Final Remark

Indulge in the exquisite flavors of Pulihora, a beloved South Indian dish. With its tangy zest and aromatic spices, it's sure to tantalize your taste buds. Try this recipe today and elevate your culinary experience!

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